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Gonarezhou Conservation Trust

Gonarezhou Rangers Running for Rhino

Running the London Marathon for Save the Rhino International because We would like to raise awareness

115 %
£18,466
raised of £16,000 target
by 241 supporters
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  • Team members: Thomas Mbiza, Brighton Jecha, Callum Duncan, Elsabe van der Westhuizen
  • Event: London Marathon 2018, 22 Apr 2018

Save The Rhino International London Marathon Team 2018

Welcome to the London Marathon team page for our Rhino Runners Team 2019!

Charity Registration No. 1035072

Story

Thank you for taking the time to visit our justgiving fundraising page.

There is an ambitious combined team from Zambia and Zimbabwe running for Save the Rhino International this year at the London Marathon. The team originates from North Luangwa National Park in Zambia, where black rhino was successfully reintroduced in 2003, and from Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, where rhinos have the dubious distinction of becoming locally extinct twice, and where there is a goal of reintroducing them to the Park in 2019.The Zambian and Zimbabwean components of the team will be fundraising separately in the spirit of some friendly rivalry, as well as to draw attention to the specific needs and aims of their respective rhino projects. The Zimbabwean team aims to raise £6 000 for Save The Rhino as our portion for the combined Zim/Zam team. We are also hoping to raise awareness for Gonarezhou’s rhino reintroduction program, and to raise £10 000 towards the succesful execution of this project.

This is the first time that Gonarezhou, (meaning ‘Place of the elephants”), are sending a team to run the London Marathon. We have selected two young Rangers to compete namelyThomas Mbiza and Brighton Jecha. They have excelled at their anti-poaching duties in the Park, and for them this is a once-in-a-life time opportunity. Neither have ever owned a passport or left Zimbabwe - therefore, getting on a plane to the United Kingdom to compete in the world-renowned London Marathon is a major event and adventure. They are both very excited but have no idea what to expect. We will be updating you on their epic journey all the way to the finish line.

Follow their story on the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust Facebook and Instagram page.

Along with the two rangers, Elsabe van der Westhuizen, who is a Frankfurt Zoological Society Technical Adviser and who was involved in the initial phase of the rhino reintroduction in North Luangwa in the early 2000’s, and Callum Duncan, Head of Security for the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, will also be running in support of this cause. Callum has agreed if the team reaches their fundraising target he will run the marathon in one of the famous Save the Rhino costumes.

A brief history of black rhino in Gonarezhou

Gonarezhou National Park is a vast wilderness in southeast Zimbabwe. The last of the original black rhino population in the area was killed sometime between the 1930s and 1940s. This is a vague timeline, but with 500 000 hectares of remote and rugged bush country a more exact estimate is not possible. A reintroduction project between 1969 and 1977 brought 77 black rhino back into the area. Their numbers grew to 140 before the civil war in neighbouring Mozambique resulted in Gonarezhou being closed to the public. The wave of rhino poaching sweeping through the continent in the early 1980’s did not spare Gonarezhou, and by 1994 the black rhino population was tragically locally extinct for the second time.

The Gonarezhou Conservation Project was initiated in 2007 through a partnership agreement between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Frankfurt Zoological Society. This project culminated in the formation of the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust , which was formally launched in March 2017. During this time considerable progress had been made to rectify the problems that led to the previous rhino extinction in the park. All existing rangers have gone through intense refresher courses and new rangers have been hired from surrounding communities after completing a rigorous selection course and training. The rangers have been supplied with the necessary equipment for them to be effective in their task of protecting the Park’s wildlife and habitats. This has contributed to the reduction of poaching as well as an increase in motivation and ranger skills. Sustainable funding has also allowed the Project, and now the Trust,to not only have a positive impact on security in the Park, but on all aspects of general operations, inclusive of tourism.

All this work has led to the situation where a successful rhino reintroduction is possible, and this is now planned to take place in 2019. In the coming year a huge amount of work needs to be done to make sure all the necessary infrastructure and additional security is in place to make this dream a reality, and the running of the London Marathon is one of the steps that we are taking to reach our goals. The funds that we raise in addition to the amount pledged to Save the Rhino International will be directed towards purchasing ranger equipment for the security team that will be specifically tasked with the safe-keeping of the rhinos once they reach Gonarezhou.


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